Last Friday, I was upstairs in a hotel with five young ladies who take their clothes off. Yes, it’s a rotten job, but somebody has to do it.
But if you think I was indulging in the kind of Las Vegas fling that famously killed off The Who’s John Entwistle, let me put you right.
We were at The Inn at the Station in Clitheroe, hosted by Gary and Louise Clough, raising money for Derian House children’s hospice with a sparkling – and often very noisy – cabaret burlesque night. And what a night it was!
That upstairs flat became a dressing room where a group of otherwise quite ordinary ladies transformed themselves with gowns, girdles, feathers and make-up into glamorous performers before descending the stairs to present their acts in the lounge bar.
We enjoyed a comedy “burlesque rookie” and ham-fisted magician act from the amply-proportioned Jezebel Steele, cabaret songs from cute Bexi Owen, Marilyn Monroe and a balletic fan dance from lithe Suzie Sequin, the Gothic menace of Raven Noir with enormous feather head-dress, balloon-bursting and a cheeky audition tale from Heather Sweet (my elder daughter, bless her), and my humble self singing Noel Coward songs. The “maid”, picking up the discarded clothing and props, was Beau Shortcake.
Holding the whole thing together with introductions, jokes and songs was Kiki DeVille, a bubbly and forthright Australian singer who now lives in Lancashire.
And fair play to “Andy”, a fun-loving audience member who was dragged on to the stage, made to remove his shirt and taught how to shimmy.
Three things you ought to know about burlesque performers; one, they all have exotic names; two, they remove clothes not to be sexually provocative but to entertain and be admired; three, under those bosoms beat hearts of gold.
They came from all over the North West to Clitheroe to appear free of charge and support the fund-raising efforts of “Kiki”, in everyday life Mrs Kristianne Robinson, who sadly lost her first baby Dexter to a genetic condition.
Dexter died in Derian House, near Chorley, which cares for sick and terminally ill children and their families from all over the North West.
Parents like myself, who have brought up healthy children, can scarely comprehend the heartbreak of having a child in the shadow of cancer or some other life-threatening disease. We are so lucky, and should count our blessings.
The least we can do is put our hands in our pockets or give up some of our time to support Derian House.
When I turned 60 a couple of years ago, I threw a birthday party at a club and asked guests to put cash or cheques, instead of gifts for me, into Derian House Gift Aid envelopes. It’s as simple as that, and it didn’t take a big effort on my part. Why not do the same yourself?